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Opinions of Saturday, 29 July 2006

Columnist: Kojok, Justin

Distance Relationships and Broken-heart Phenomenon –Diaspora reflection

‘ The mind has thousands eyes, And the heart but one, Yet the light of a whole life dies when love is done’ FW Bourdillon in Light.

In deed the light of a whole life dies when love is done and this nearly happened to Araba if it wasn’t by a divine intervention that I met her that day at Accra International Conference Centre some year back. She wasn’t the one I knew few weeks earlier. Her entire being withered completely and she became wandered even with mere conversation not to mention the program we were attending. And that is exactly what Bourdillon probably meant ‘the light of a whole life dies when love is done’. Araba was a virgin until her fiancée had the opportunity to travel to Japan. Before he left he convinced her to break her virginity as a promise to marry her. Three years later a lady called to inform her that she is married to her fiancée and she (Araba) should look for a man elsewhere to marry. Araba was disappointed not only because the relationship got broken but also she lost her source of income. (Foreign remittance, which is also becoming the backbone of Ghana’s economy). Araba case is one of the many people who have committed suicides and others ended in mental institutions because of long distance relationships. Long distance relationship could involve marriage couples or yet to be married couples or just dating. I want to look at two. Married couples and fiancées. The situation present itself when one partner gets an opportunity to travel abroad. With the present trend of many people want to travel abroad, some people do everything possible to travel without genuine papers and when they get there their focus change because they got to live and work. Let me state here that some travel to further their education; others have job opportunities because to their expertise in some industries abroad. Others are sent on foreign missions or national assignments. The last group is the hustlers (burgers) who are, perhaps, the worse offenders of broken-heart phenomenon.

With more people traveling and working abroad, making a long-distance relationship work is a task faced by many. Each couple's circumstances are unique, but each share similar concerns. Almost everybody is familiar with how both sexes disappoint their partners when they travel abroad and I don’t need to waste time talking about the ‘hows’.

Why do these people who meant well when leaving their homeland and all of a sudden they turn a bad leave? Does it worth to be in a distance relationship and does it work?

As a Snr Minister in Diaspora, I want to discuss how long distance relationship can work and I want to be utterly unbiased giving a blind eye to any religious fanatics.

I have always been an unrepented advocate against long distance relationships where the two people don’t know each other, send pictures and letters, and ultimately get their relatives consummate the marriage. People should avoid this type of relationship as much as possible. Most of the people involve in this type are either ‘gold-diggings’ or irresponsible, though there are genuine ones out there.

Nonetheless, those who were dating back at home or married couples before opportunity came and one partner traveled, I want you to read this article very careful.

The factor to consider is whether it worth trying to make the long-distance relationship work. Certainly, at the start of a relationship, and this is for would-be couples, if you don't live close to each other it's tough but not an insurmountable problem. If you truly care for each other, you'll love and move mountains in order to eventually move closer.

If you do want to be together, there is a lot you can do to make it work. The first key to success with long distance relationships is effective communication. It is important for both parties to be able to feel that if they need to talk or write to each other, communication will be welcomed and met with active communication from each other. The quality of the relationship is more likely to increase if both people develop the ability to share feelings openly with each other. Be extra demonstrative of your feelings. Send cards, flowers, and presents. Say 'I love you' often, to make up for the fact that you can't show affection face-to-face. The less you see each other, the more you need to hear each other.

So schedule regular telephone calls and stay in touch with emails. E-mail is a wonderful invention for separated loved ones and is particularly not expensive. You can send texts messages on you phones or write letters. When you do make contact, don't just stick to love talk, but keep each other informed on the day-to-day aspects of your lives. This way you each stay aware of how the other is thinking, feeling and developing. If one of you develops a new interest or hobby, the other should make an effort to be involved. It's not passion that ends long distance love, but usually plain loss of common interests. With the advent of webcam, you can schedule to let your partner get to internet café which has webcam where both of you can see each other as you write instant messages to each other. It is not expensive to do that. Build trust. Because you're not there to keep an eye on each other, it’s important to build trust. Both should make extra efforts to be reliable, to do what you say you are going to do. The party abroad should be able to communicate clearly to his/her partner the difficulties s/he faces and not only talk of goodies and trappings abroad. Execute the proposed project without cheating. If you each know that you are trustworthy in little things, you'll be able to trust in big things. Trust that the other person's social life wouldn’t be a threat to the relationship. Trust is so important that if it isn't strong, you can make a conscious effort to work on it, both on your own and together One big issue of living apart is missing out on lovemaking particularly the married couples. Try having phone sex together or erotic text messages huskily describing what you'd like to do to each other. This one is for married couples and yet to be married couples that are not religiously inclined. Be careful though.

Be a little bit balance. That’s, independence but with a healthy level of dependence upon each other. When these are present, there is a balance of power in the relationship between both parties, and each person can be autonomous but still meet the other person’s emotional needs. What this means is that with an appropriate balance of independence and dependence, each person is allowed, even encouraged, to grow and change as an individual, which everyone needs. It is, therefore, wise not to expect that your partner or yourself will always stay exactly the same as when the relationship started. The one abroad may have a cultural change and his/her way of communication may change. For example, here in USA, people use STEP. (Sorry, Thank you, Excuse me, and please). Such mannerism needs to be communicated to your partner so that s/he doesn’t get you wrong when you talk. Let me add that the calls shouldn’t be one party’s burden. If you think it is too dear to make a long call from Africa, do your best to call when your partner might not be at home and leave a short but sexy voice message. S/he would be happy to listen to it. One important thing one should take note is excessive demand. The party at home should be moderate in demand for money as much as the lifestyle. It is very important to know the strategies of coping up with long distance relationships. When you feel lonely, get involved in organizations or causes that you personally believe in. Help those who have challenging life circumstances. Make sure there are supportive people and places in your life. Every once in a while, do something that is atypical of you. For example, go to a movie on a weekend or get your haircut or hairdo. Tend to your spiritual needs by going to church (for Christians) mosque and other religious gathering. Here you should be careful of the charlatan pastors and prophets, else they would ruin your relationship

Specific strategies to try when the depression of missing hits you, especially a partner back at home. Let out the emotions: cry, scream, sing, exercise, go for a run, or take a walk. Write a letter to the person, whether you send it or not, letting her/him know how you are feeling. Write poems; watch a comedy movie to make you laugh. Make call or visit your in-laws or your would-be in-laws or read a book.

I believe couples can stay miles apart, and be able to maintain a solid, happy, successful relationship until they could be together again.

Justin Kojok ( Snr Minister)

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.